Red Sox among four teams interested in Francisco Cordero

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UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Cordero would prefer to return to the Reds.

8:15 PM: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this afternoon that the Red Sox have “increased dialogue” with free agent closer Francisco Cordero. Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears similar information from his sources, but he was also told by Cordero’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, that his list of potential destinations has been narrowed down to four teams who are willing to give multi-year contracts.

“With the interest we’ve received, we’ve been exploring multi-year deals and we’re very confident that’s where we’re going to end up,” said Stringfellow. “The teams that we’ve spoken to, none of them have balked at that of the four remaining clubs.”

Stringfellow wouldn’t confirm the specific teams involved, but Speier writes that the Red Sox, Reds and Angels are believed to be interested. The Reds declined Cordero’s $12 million option for 2012 in late-October, but are interested in bringing the veteran right-hander back at a lesser annual salary.

Cordero, who turns 37 in May, posted a 2.35 ERA and 37 saves in 43 chances this past season, but he also had the lowest strikeout rate and velocity of his career. He at least adapted by increasing his ground ball rate and cutting back on the free passes, but a lucrative multi-year deal could be a big risk.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.